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Domestic Cannabis Cultivation Assessment 2009

Publication Date: July 2009

Document ID: 2009-L0848-001A

Archived on: September 1, 2012. This document may contain dated information. It remains available to provide access to historical materials.

Cover image for Domestic Cannabis Cultivation Assessment 2009.This annual report provides policymakers, law enforcement executives, resource planners, and cannabis eradication program coordinators with strategic intelligence regarding cannabis cultivation and marijuana trafficking trends. It highlights strategic trends in indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation, particularly in principal domestic cultivation areas. This assessment also presents strategic intelligence regarding the operational trends and tendencies of drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and criminal groups that produce marijuana, and it addresses the violence, hazards, and environmental damage associated with domestic cannabis cultivation.

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Cover photo: NDIC.


Executive Summary



National Cannabis Cultivation Trends
   Indoor Cultivation Trends
   Outdoor Cultivation Trends

Trends in M7 States
   West Virginia

Cannabis Cultivation on Public Lands

Primary Foreign Source Countries for Marijuana

Availability and Demand

Intelligence Gaps



List of Tables

Table 1. Number of Plants Eradicated From Indoor and Outdoor Sites in the United States, 2004-2008
Table 2. Domestic Cannabis Eradication Indoor and Outdoor Plant Seizures, 2008
Table 3. Number of Indoor Grow Sites and Plants Eradicated in Florida, 2004-2008
Table 4. Percentage of Cannabis Plants Eradicated From National Forests in California, 2004-2008
Table 5. Trends in Percentage of Past Year Marijuana Use, 2003-2007
Table 6. Adolescent Trends in Percentage of Past Year Use of Marijuana, 2003-2007

List of Figures

Figure 1. Average Percentage of THC in Samples of Seized Marijuana, 1988-2008
Figure 2. Cannabis Plants Eradicated From Indoor Grows in Florida, by County, 2008
Figure 3. Outdoor Cannabis Plants Eradicated and Sites Seized in California, by County, 2008
Figure 4. Outdoor Cannabis Plants Eradicated and Sites Seized in Oregon, by County, 2008
Figure 5. Indoor Cannabis Plants Eradicated in Oregon, by County, 2008
Figure 6. Outdoor Cannabis Plants Eradicated and Sites Seized in Washington, by County, 2008
Figure 7. Indoor Cannabis Plants Eradicated in Washington, by County, 2008
Figure 8. Outdoor Cannabis Plants Eradicated and Sites Seized in Kentucky, by County, 2008
Figure 9. Indoor Cannabis Plants Eradicated in Kentucky, by County, 2008
Figure 10. Outdoor Cannabis Plants Eradicated and Sites Seized in Tennessee, by County, 2008
Figure 11. Outdoor Cannabis Plants Eradicated and Sites Seized in West Virginia, by County, 2008
Figure 12. Number of Plants Eradicated From Federal Lands, 2004-2008
Figure 13. Number of Cannabis Plants Eradicated, by National Forest, 2008
Figure 14. Marijuana-Related Admissions to Publicly Funded Treatment Facilities, 1994-2006

Executive Summary

Domestic cannabis cultivation is occurring at high levels and eradication is increasing across the United States, according to the most recent eradication data. Cannabis cultivation operations currently appear to be most prevalent in western states but are increasing in many eastern states. Average marijuana potency steadily increased over the past 20 years to the highest recorded level in 2008; this continuous yearly increase can be partially attributed to improvements in outdoor and indoor cultivation methods. Indoor cannabis cultivation continues at high levels--the result of traffickers attempting to avoid heightened detection and eradication of outdoor grow sites and to gain higher profits by trafficking higher-grade marijuana.

California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia are the primary marijuana cultivation states (M7 states). Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (DCE/SP) data show that more than 8 million plants were eradicated in 2008, 89 percent (7,136,133 plants of 8,013,308 plants) of which were eradicated in the M7 States.

Despite continuing increases in the amount of cannabis produced domestically, much of the marijuana available within the United States is foreign-produced. The two primary foreign source areas for marijuana distributed within the United States are Canada and Mexico. Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have relocated many of their outdoor cannabis cultivation operations in Mexico from traditional growing areas to more remote locations in central and northern Mexico, primarily to reduce the risk of eradication and gain easier access to U.S. drug markets. Asian criminal groups are the primary producers of high-potency marijuana in Canada.

The amount of marijuana available for distribution in the United States is unknown; an accurate estimate regarding the amount of marijuana available in the United States is not feasible. Despite record-setting eradication efforts in the United States, the availability of marijuana remains relatively high, with limited disruption in supply or price. Levels of marijuana use in the United States are higher than those for any other drug, particularly among adults; however, rates of marijuana use are decreasing among adolescents. Some law enforcement agencies identify marijuana as the greatest drug threat in their jurisdictions. Marijuana use often results in adverse health consequences to abusers, placing a burden on medical services.

No reliable estimates are available regarding the amount of domestically cultivated or processed marijuana. The amount of cannabis cultivated and marijuana produced in the United States by large-scale DTOs, including Asian, Caucasian, and Mexican groups, is unknown. The extent of indoor cannabis cultivation in the United States is largely unknown and likely underreported because of the challenges posed to law enforcement entities in locating indoor grow sites.

In the near term, the threat posed by domestic cannabis cultivation in both outdoor and indoor grows will increase as DTOs expand their operations throughout the United States. Traffickers, primarily Mexican and Asian DTOs involved with cannabis cultivation and marijuana distribution, will expand their operations to new areas, mainly to minimize detection and maximize profits. Demand for high-potency marijuana may encourage traffickers to produce other high THC-content products such as hashish and hash oil.

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